Great Britain

The North East in 1956: Northumberland Street to Spanish City in 10 photographs

10 photographs from the ChronicleLive archive give a taste of what was going on in our region 65 years ago

It was 1956 and our display image shows Newcastle's main shopping thoroughfare, Northumberland Street, in full swing.

The queues and scarcities of post-war austerity had largely vanished and the country was well on the mend.

Full employment meant there were plenty of job opportunities, people had more money in their pockets than ever before, and they could spend their hard-earned cash at shops which now bulged with goods.

Our 10 photographs from the ChronicleLive archive give a taste of life in our region 65 years ago.

In Whitley Bay, day trippers and holiday makers flocked to the Spanish City. In Jarrow, the emerging shopping centre pointed towards a new booming future for retail. And at Walker in Newcastle, at South Medomsley near Consett, and at North Shields, traditional industry in the shape of shipbuilding, coal mining and ship repair was still going strong (for the time being anyway).

For the young folk of the region, as well as being able to walk into a job as soon as they left school, a new wildly exciting form of music arrived fresh from the United States. Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Bill Haley were the rising stars of rock'n'roll, but none would burn as brightly as a 21-year-old from Tupelo, Mississippi called Elvis Presley who enjoyed his first hit single Heartbreak Hotel in 1956.

Meanwhile, at a time when television was still its infancy and there was only one channel in the North East, most towns had at least one cinema - often more. Popular films this year included The Ten Commandments, The King And I and High Society.

In the wider world, American heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano retired undefeated; the Eurovision Song Contest took place for the first time; and the Olympic Games were contested in Melbourne, Australia.

But the world was changing in the aftermath of the war.

In October 1956, Soviet troops brutally crushed an uprising in Hungary; the United States carried out ongoing hydrogen bomb tests at Bikini Atoll; and when Britain was forced to humiliatingly pull its troops out of Egypt during the Suez Crisis, it was clear the country's place in the international order was diminished.

Don't miss our new Memory Lane local history website that's packed with archive photographs and has an easy-to-use picture colourisation tool.

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